Aiello, Dan

Dan Aiello, is the Sacramento reporter for the California Progress Report.

Attorney General Issues Letter to Lawmakers on Medical Marijuana

By Dan Aiello

Just a week after Assemblyman Tom Ammiano met with the U.S. attorney's office to discuss federal raids on California's medical marijuana dispensaries and growers, California's attorney general has issued a letter to the state's top lawmakers warning that attempts to pass statewide regulation of marijuana must not impede upon the will of the people or further provoke the wrath of the federal government.

"We have started a conversation," Ammiano, an openly gay San Francisco Democrat, told the Bay Area Reporter of his meeting with Melinda Haag, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California.

Romney Supports Two Equal Rights for LGBT Americans While Pledging to Deny Others

By Dan Aiello

When Iowa's ultra-conservative, anti-gay Family Leader evangelical group declined to endorse Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at its forum last month, the former Massachusetts governor was quick to turn the non-endorsement into an opportunity to win over LGBT voters in New Hampshire.

"I don't believe in discriminating in employment or opportunity for gay individuals. So I favor gay rights. I do not favor gay marriage," he told the editorial board of the Nashua Telegraph in New Hampshire in mid-November.

To buttress his position, Romney signed the National Organization for Marriage's pledge opposing same-sex marriage, joining candidates Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum.

Feds To Meet With Ammiano on Pot Laws

By Dan Aiello

After more than two months of confusion amid a crackdown by the federal Department of Justice on medical cannabis dispensaries, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is expected to meet soon with the U.S. attorney's office.

The private meeting is expected to take place next week between Ammiano, the San Francisco Democrat, and Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California. The decision by Haag to meet with Ammiano comes just one week after U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong ruled against three Bay Area medical marijuana dispensaries, one of the dispensary's patients, and another's landlord.

"U.S. Attorney Haag's office has responded to our request and Assemblyman Ammiano will be meeting with her sometime next week," said Quintin Mecke, Ammiano's communications director.

California Progress Report Remembrance: World AIDS Day

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report
As the world marks another sad year in a still-growing AIDS epidemic, the United States this year is focusing on its southern states, where the stigma of AIDS is blamed for the region being home to the cities with the nation’s highest rates of infection.

In California, the Centers for Disease Control statistics show that work must still be done to eradicate this disease, especially among the African-American and Latino communities, but the numbers also show the golden state’s work at AIDS prevention could be a model for states like Louisiana, Georgia and Florida, where the epidemic is growing exponentially.

New Polling Indicates Cost Factor ‘Critical’ To Passage Of Hetch Hetchy Initiative

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

Responding to a challenge from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to back-up their claim city voters support restoring the Hetch Hetch Valley, Restore Hetch Hetchy (RHH) has released polling data which appears to support the non-profit organization’s assertion.

The City of San Francisco dammed the Hetch Hetchy in 1913, destroying the valley naturalist John Muir himself called, “One of God’s greatest mountain temples.” RHH and its supporters will ask city voters to restore the valley at the November, 2012 ballot box.

The survey, conducted by David Binder Research in July of 2010, indicated that the cost of the measure is a critical factor to 60 percent of city voters while 40 percent support returning the Hetch Hetchy to the National Park Service regardless of cost.

SFPUC Refuses Public Hearing on Hetch Hetchy Restoration

By Dan Aiello

In a letter to Restore Hetch Hetchy’s executive director, Mike Marshall, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has rejected a request by the non-profit to hold a public hearing on the feasibility and benefits of restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park.

The refusal comes after poll results indicate mounting support by San Francisco’s citizens for the restoration of the valley.

Currently, Hetch Hetchy Valley is one of nine locations used by the City of San Francisco to store water and it is the only reservoir located in a national park. The cost to restore the valley is a major source of contention, with the SFPUC and California Department of Water Resources citing a cost ten times that of RHH, but without study or documentation to support their estimate.

San Francisco PUC fails to Support $9.8 Billion Estimate to Restore Hetch Hetchy

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

Preceding qualification of a 2012 San Francisco ballot measure that will ask city residents to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley to the National Park Service for restoration, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission admits its nearly ten billion dollar cost estimate for the project was not based on any study performed by it, but rather was an esitmate for the same state agency study that cites the SFPUC as the source of the cost estimate.

Mike Marshall, Executive Director of the Restore Hetch Hetchy non-profit organization, claims the nearly ten billion dollar figure comes from a 2007 California Department of Water Resources report that footnotes the estimates to undisclosed SFPUC documentation. 

California Could Be First In Nation to Offer Redress to Gay Vets

By Dan Aiello

Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) announced last week that he will author legislation that will restore state veterans benefits to gay and lesbian service members who were discharged or court-martialed for being homosexual.

If passed, Pan's legislation will be the first such effort at redress by any state or federal agency.

"I am proposing this legislation to assure that gay and lesbian veterans who would otherwise have qualified for these benefits, see them restored," Pan told the Bay Area Reporter. "We need to correct this past injustice."

California Legislature Will Reconsider Brownley Bag Ban In 2012

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

In an interview last week with Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, California Progress Report has learned the Santa Monica Democrat plans to fight once more to make California first in the nation to ban single-use, non-biodegradable plastic bags.

The legislation likely will mirror AB 1998, the so-called Brownley Bag Ban, that was defeated by the deep pockets of the Virginia-Based American Chemistry Council, Exxon/Mobil and Poly Hilex manufacturing on the floor of the California State Senate, 21-14. A lot of campaign contributions were made the weekend before the bill came before the Senate for the final time.

Legislators Told State Will Run Out Of Money For K-12 School Facilities In Months

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

At Wednesday’s Joint Oversight Hearing on Financing Options for School Facilities - chaired by Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) - legislators were told California will run out of funding for new construction of the state’s K-12 facilities by April, and modernization of its decaying or seismically deficient infrastructure by August of 2012.

Brownley, who has been a strong advocate for education in California, is proud of the joint effort by the state and local school districts to improve California’s K-12 school facilities over the last decade.